Question: Does a teen need to be listed as a primary driver if both parents already are listed as primary drivers of the two main vehicles, but there is an extra vehicle available in the household?  For instance, can one parent be listed as the primary driver for two vehicles, one to commute to work and one for pleasure, and the teen listed as only a secondary driver for all of the family cars? He doesn’t drive any car all that often currently.

Answer: In your household there are three drivers and three cars, so most car insurance companies would mandate that each driver be listed on the policy as the primary driver of one car, even your teenage driver.

Individual insurance company guidelines vary, but it’s pretty standard for auto insurers to require each listed driver on a policy to be matched up as the primary driver of a vehicle if the number of cars and drivers is equal.  If instead there were more cars than drivers, then you could be listed as the primary driver of more than one vehicle.

Typically, you should list as the primary driver the person who uses that vehicle the most.  This may not always be possible; for instance,  you may use both your commuter car and pleasure car more than other household drivers do, but you can only be the primary of one of them. 

I understand your desire to make your teenage driver the secondary driver of all cars; it’s typically cheaper that way and it’s possible that you and your wife drive all of the household cars more than your son does.  Unfortunately, insurance companies assume each driver has one main car that he or she operates more than other household vehicles and thus wants each driver assigned to that vehicle.

If your son drives each vehicle in the household equally, then see if it’s possible to assign him with the cheapest vehicle in order to save on your premium.  Keep in mind, not all car insurance companies permit you to match up drivers and cars, some will automatically match the riskiest driver with the most expensive car. 

Another way to try and save is if your teenager never drives your pleasure car see if it’s possible to exclude him as a driver on it. 

If your pleasure car is special high-performance or classic vehicle, then you may be able to lower your car insurance rates by signing a named driver exclusion saying that in exchange for your son never driving the vehicle he won’t be rated on it (or receive coverage if he did drive it). 

Teen car insurance can be expensive, so other ways to reduce rates include:

  • See if your child is eligible for a good student discount
  • Find out if taking a specific driving course will earn the teen a discount
  • Try out a pay-as-you-drive (PAYD) program
  • Shop around with multiple car insurance carriers

Comparison shopping is really the best way to find the cheapest car insurance policy, especially with a young driver on your policy.  This way you can find an auto insurance provider that is priced the best for your household’s needs.

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Penny Gusner
Consumer Analyst/Insurance Expert

Penny has been working in the car insurance business for more than 10 years and has become an expert on procedures, rates, policies and claims. She has seen it all, and working with from its inception, she researches the routine and the bizarre with equal enthusiasm. She has three very active children and a husband with a zeal for quirky cars.